Shopify vs WooCommerce – Which of these popular ecommerce platforms is the best ecommerce platform for you? In this ecommerce platform comparison, we’ll answer exactly that.
Shopify is the go-to solution for entrepreneurs of all kinds.
WooCommerce – one of the most popular Shopify alternatives – accounts for over 30% of all web stores online.
Many entrepreneurs on Reddit feel that WooCommerce isn’t worth the effort. You need to:
- set up web hosting
- create a database
- install WordPress
- install WooCommerce on top of that
- find a theme
- edit that theme
A lot of wasted labour if all you want to do is sell a few things online!
An established brand that has a well-known image and a huge fan base need complete control of their website. An ‘out of the box’ solution may present more problems when you want something to look a specific way.
As some of the best ecommerce websites, both options have what you need. Attractive design, product variations, payment gateways, SEO & marketing features.
The ‘opinions’ in this article come in part from Shopify and WooCommerce reviews. Online resellers actually using the product shed valuable information on how it works. We decided to gather them together for your convenience!
In this ecommerce platform comparison, we will take a close look at two of the best ecommerce platforms.
- Fees & Costs
- Multichannel selling
- Ease of use
- Selling on Facebook
- Mobile Apps
After reading this post, you will know
- What you need in order to start selling on Shopify or WooCommerce
- The skills needed to work on a daily basis with WooCommerce vs Shopify
- Shopify vs WooCommerce – the best ecommerce platform for you
Shopify vs Etsy
Many people ask the question ‘Shopify vs Etsy, which is better?’ That’s simply an unfair comparison.
You may think that Etsy is a site like Shopify, or maybe even an alternative to Shopify. But you’d be wrong.
Etsy is an online marketplace.
Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms.
Selling on Bonanza is another great way to increase your sales.
But it’s comparing apples and oranges. The best answer depends completely on your business model, target audience and what you’re selling.
A stay-at-home mum who makes beaded jewellery will have more luck on Etsy than a Shopify website.
A company that sells boutique lingerie online and in multiple retail stores will benefit more from a Shopify or WooCommerce website than selling on Etsy.
Read more about the differences between marketplaces and web stores here.
Shopify is just one of the alternatives to Etsy. If you want to learn more about other sites like Etsy, read the article:
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Differences
WooCommerce and Shopify are ultimately the same things. They are a CMS (content management system) for your online store. WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to create a storefront, list products and provide a secure gateway for customers to pay.
In the backend, both platforms provide you with a way to manage your products, customers and sales.
The fundamental difference between the two platforms is how you set up and operate it.
- Shopify is out of the box.
- WooCommerce needs WordPress, hosting, domain name.
Still not clear?
- Shopify is buying a brand new car from the dealer
- WooCommerce is inheriting a 1970’s Cadillac from your uncle and fixing it up.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Design
The design is a huge part of your ecommerce store. It’s used to not just look pretty, but build trust and show off your branding.
Even the best products will not catch anyone’s eye is they’re presented poorly.
Average design will destroy your ability to sell more!
Shopify website Design
Shopify knows the importance of good design for your ecommerce store. This is reflected in their 54 different templates, 10 of which are free. They even offer their own return policy template.
All Shopify themes are crisp, sleek and made with your customer in mind. Some themes have unique variations, meaning you actually have over 100 templates to choose from.
Shopify themes remove one hurdle if you have never operated an online store before – user experience. While you may know how you want your store to look, that isn’t necessarily beneficial to your customer.
Shopify themes excel here, as they’re made by an in-house team of user-experience professionals.
Because of this, Shopify themes solve complex things like buying friction, pain points. These are things that delay a customer from committing to their purchase in your store.
The downside? Most themes are ‘structured’ and lack originality and uniqueness.
Shopify’s ‘theme editors’ allows you to hide, and drag and drop certain elements of your page. All colours fonts and styles can be customised to your liking, too.
One feature that you can take advantage of is the ability to hide sections, customize them and then make them public. This is an issue that a lot of developers have with WooCommerce and have complained about on Reddit.
But they cost money – paid themes can cost upwards of $120.
All Shopify themes are in RWD (Responsive Web Design) meaning that they’ll function perfectly on a desktop, tablet, cell phone or tablet.
Press London working on both desktop and mobile devices.
A downside of Shopify’s themes is that you need to learn Shopify’s ‘Liquid’ code if you want full theme customisation.
This is a major set back if you like to tweak and change little things. WooCommerce uses HTML and CSS – the most common coding language.
SHOPIFY DESIGN PROS:
- User-friendly themes
- Customizable sections
- Responsive design
SHOPIFY DESIGN CONS:
- Free themes are dull
- Themes can be only customised so much
- Shopify’s own coding language – Liquid
Woocommerce website design
WooCommerce’s relationship with web design is very different to that of Shopify’s.
WordPress, WooCommerce and parent company Automattic don’t actually supply any themes.
They provide you with the platform and gateway to sell products and you take care of everything else. The theme of your website is dictated by your current WordPress theme.
With that, the world is yours – you control everything.
My Goodness Organics is a fine example of a WooCommerce web store.
Don’t like that part there? It can be removed. Want to revamp everything? No problem. You have complete control.
There is no need to know HTML or CSS coding to do this, but it does help.
Coding skills or not, designing a web store on WooCommerce can up a lot of your time. If you lack the skills, you’ll need someone else’s time, and that ultimately costs you money.
After installing and activating WooCommerce, your theme will change to a new one, called Storefront.
Storefront is more like the basic theme that all of it’s ‘child themes’ come from. Storefront child themes are in abundance in the WooCommerce Theme Store and are all backed by WooCommerce themselves.
Child themes cost around $39. If you’re a developer, you can get them all for $399.
The Untold Wish is another one of our favourite WooCommerce web stores.
Don’t like Storefront themes? There is a huge range of other WooCommerce themes made by independent developers available elsewhere online.
Before committing to a 3rd party theme, check it’s WooCommerce theme reviews, the frequency of updates and what the support is like.
One difficulty of web design with WooCommerce is that any changes you make will be seen by the world as soon as you implement them. To avoid this you need to use some pretty complex tools. Scary things if you’re not a developer.
WOOCOMMERCE DESIGN PROS:
- Everything can be customized
- Thousands of 3rd party themes
WOOCOMMERCE DESIGN CONS:
- Very easy to ‘break’ the code and cause a problem
- All changes are live
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Design conclusion
Without a doubt, the design process is easier with Shopify. The ability to pick from a premade template as a starting point is great. Drag and drop what you want where you want it makes design a breeze.
On the other hand, if you know exactly what you want, Shopify can be restrictive. The abundance of great plugins can help but also add to the confusion and price tag.
WooCommerce is the better option in terms of design customisation, but be aware that it isn’t always easy!
Because of the ease of use, Shopify wins the design battle
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Fees & Costs
Whether you have a few sales a month or hundreds, value for money is integral. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are very different when it comes to pricing.
Shopify pricing is easy. WooCommerce isn’t.
As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is like getting an old Cadillac for free. You got it for nothing but you still need to store it somewhere and put time and effort into making it drivable again.
Shopify is buying a brand new car from the dealer. You pay one set amount and get everything you need to drive home – the car, insurance, registration, a full tank of gas.
WooCommerce is a free, open source plugin for WordPress. WordPress is free, as is WooCommerce. But to use them, you need things like a domain name, web hosting (we really like Pickaweb) and an SSL certificate. Perhaps even one-off payments to include certain payment methods.
Shopify is a monthly fee for everything to work. The pricing comes at a different level, and not unlike the automotive industry, the more you pay, the more features you get. You sign up and get your store that’s ready for you to upload and sell your products.
Ultimately, WooCommerce is the cheaper option but you may also need to factor in other extensions and plugins. These may be one time payments (Stripe integration for WooCommerce is $79) or monthly recurring charges.
Shopify is simple in its pricing.
- or $299 per month.
Each package has a wide range of features that work straight out of the box to help you operate your online store.
With WooCommerce, you don’t pay any per transaction fees. WooCommerce itself comes with PayPal integration but it’s Paypal who will charge you the fee for using their service.
WooCommerce charges no transaction fees.
Shopify charges between 2.25% and 2.9% + a $0.30 commission, per sale.
Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to add other payment methods like Stripe, PayPal (included with WooCommerce) and Apple pay. Regardless of which platform you use, you will be subject to payment gateway fees.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Fees & costs conclusion
Ultimately, Shopify is the more expensive of the two – yet it works straight out of the box. The fees are similar to that of a marketplace like Etsy and can add up quite quickly, though. As the old adage goes, time = money.
While WooCommerce is cheaper, you will spend more time, and perhaps money, setting it up and getting it functioning smoothly.
However, WooCommerce gives you more control over things like meta descriptions and SEO. These are features that you can leverage to generate a higher income, and ultimately offset the initial time and money spent on setup.
Shopify works out of the box but you’ll spend time and money setting up your WooCommerce store.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Features
When it comes to what you need to set up and operate your only store, both WooCommerce and Shopify are very similar. The most important features are built into the main framework of the software so when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.
In terms of bonus features, plugins and add-ons there is a lot. Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a wide range of apps that can help run your online store.
Part of WordPress’s success owes to the fact that it’s open source – anyone can make anything for it. That means that there are a huge huge range of 3rd party plugins to add on to your WordPress site and WooCommerce website, such as:
- Affiliate marketing
- A/B testing
- And much much more.
Shopify features are abundantly more than that of WooCommerce. A blessing and a curse though, as a lot of Shopify users don’t know or need the included features.
Right off the bat, Shopify gives you:
- Drop shipping ready
- Product reviews
- Facebook selling integration
- Mobile device ready
- Adjustable shipping & tax rates
- Customer profiles & accounts
- Daily backups
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes & coupons
- Free SSL certificate
- Multiple languages & currencies
- Unlimited products and file storage
- Automatic fraud analysis
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Features conclusion
So with all these features in mind, which one benefits you the best?
Shopify’s list of free included features is impressive, but remember that plugins can get you the same – if not better.
Answering that ultimately comes down to your skills or access to resources, what you’re selling and a good knowledge of your customer.
If you’re an author selling your book, you may have no need for Instagram integration, but you’d love to show off your Goodreads bookshelf on your website.
Alternatively, if you’re using dropshipping on Shopify to send your book from a far-off warehouse, you will need drop shipping capabilities straight away.
The only thing that can differentiate Shopify and WooCommerce here is the fact that one is made with ecommerce in mind, while the other is an add-on to an already existing website.
It’s very hard to pick a winner in terms of features, as both are so abundant in their own way.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Ease of use
Whether you’re moving to Shopify from another platform or building a new web store with WooCommerce, ease of use is important. Not just setting up the account, but operating it on a daily basis, too.
Your time and efforts are better spent being innovative and creative elsewhere in your business – not setting it up.
Below you will find a comparison of an ease of use of Woocommerce and Shopify.
Getting started with Shopify
After clicking the ‘Sign up’ button, we’re presented with a few questions.
Fill in a few details about yourself including your personal info and Shopify present you with their dashboard – full of helpful information.
Navigating and using Shopify on a day to day basis is simple, too. The main navigation is clean, easy to read and straightforward.
Adding a product to sell is just like the rest of the process. Simple.
How to set up WooCommerce
As mentioned WooCommerce is a plugin to an already existing WordPress site. Once you’ve installed WordPress into your hosting platform, it’s a matter of installing with WooCommerce plugin.
Below you will learn how to install the WooCommerce plugin from WordPress.
Navigate to your plugin section from your WordPress admin panel, search for WooCommerce and install it. Once installed, hit ‘Activate’ and you’re presented with the set-up wizard.
Straightforward, easy to use and nothing too scary. Anything done here can be edited and changed later.
Once the wizard is complete, you’re ready to add your products.
Again, like all things WooCommerce, plenty of options and customizable fields are present.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Which is best ecommerce platform to use daily?
In terms of day to day use, there is little to no difference at all.
Both platforms have their navigation set and clearly labelled on the left. Customer and order data is easily accessible from anywhere. Fulfilling orders is simple, even with the vanilla versions of the platforms.
It comes down to you, the individual and which one you feel more comfortable operating.
Shopify vs WooCommerce- Ease of use: conclusion
There are very few areas in which WooCommerce or Shopify come out as clear winners and ease of use is no different. Set up on Shopify is clearly easier and is more geared to those who just want to get online and sell.
If you can operate a WordPress blog, you’ll be able to manage a WooCommerce store. If you’ve got no experience with operating the back end of a web page in any way, shape or form, Shopify is your safest option.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Multichannel options
Multichannel selling is the concept of selling your products in multiple channels. A web store, as well as a marketplace like Amazon or eBay. Selected products in your web store’s inventory are automatically synced into external marketplaces
Multichannel selling is a powerful tool to grow your brand’s awareness and increase your reach, and surprise surprise, both platforms approach it differently!
If you’re considering using WooCommerce and would like to sell on Amazon as well, you may have a lot of work ahead of you.
To easily sell your WooCommerce inventory on Amazon, you’ll need a wide range of plugins. One to handle listings and product updates, another to handle sales and possibly a third to sync customers and orders.
The Shopify platform includes free integration with Amazon but only if your product fits in the clothing and accessories category.
There is a workaround to list your Shopify products in other categories, but it gets complex and time-consuming.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Support
From time to time, we need a bit of support. Even the most advanced online retailer needs a little help on the odd occasion.
Shopify is renowned for its outstanding support, help and documentation. A customer looking for something has access to 24/7 phone support, chat and email support.
Add to the list, a gigantic knowledge base that covers queries ranging from adding a product to adding an emoji in a comment.
WooCommerce has a strong support base, too. That support comes mostly in the form of the user forums. WooCommerce support is complemented by strong and extensive documentation, too.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Support conclusion
Taking what’s offered at face value, it’s clear to see that Shopify has the superior customer support. That being said, WooCommerce is coded in HTML and CSS, the two most common coding scripts.
9 times out of 10, a simple Google search will provide you with various solutions to your WooCommerce/Wordpress problem.
So while official WooCommerce support may be inferior to that of Shopify, it’s not too hard to solve most WooCommerce problems by yourself.
Shopify vs WooCommerce- SEO
SEO is an incredibly important and often overlooked part of ecommerce marketing. Using the Google Keyword Planner is an important way to plan your ecommerce SEO strategy.
Blogging plays an important role in the marketing of your ecommerce brand.
As Steve from MyWifeQuitHerJob says:
”Blogging is an excellent way to …
- Get your ideas out to the masses
- Establish yourself as an authority
- Reach out to other experts and entrepreneurs around you”
If you’re using a WooCommerce store, you’re already using the world’s most popular blogging platform, WordPress.
Many ecommerce sellers who run a blog, do so on WordPress. No matter what ecommerce platform they’re using, WordPress is the first choice for operating a blog.
Yoast SEO is the go-to plug-in to make sure you’re on top of your SEO on all pages. It’s only available on WordPress and WooCommerce stores.
Getting the most from your SEO efforts means you need access to as many back-end features as you can get. WooCommerce and WordPress give you that access, no questions, no fuss, no coding (well, very very little) required.
Shopify is also aware of the role SEO plays in running a successful online store.
Integrated features to help your SEO efforts include alt-tag editing, image optimization and meta tags.
Fast servers and quick download speeds are important to make sure your ecommerce store ranks on page one. Since Shopify is an out-of-the-box solution, you’re using their state-of-the-art servers. This means your page will always be loading quickly.
Shopify gives you that access, but you need to play by their rules and in their language – their liquid coding language.
But even the most SEO friendly platform won’t place you high in search results just because you have it!
You have to know what to do to optimize your store to help it appear in search results.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – SEO conclusion
If you’re serious about your SEO (and you should be), WooCommerce is the hands-down winner.
Optimize your store and start bringing in sales today. Download the free ‘SEO essentials for ecommerce’ ebook!
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Which is better for security?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are overwhelmingly safe. Every month, thousands of people search ‘is Shopify safe’ and ‘is WooCommerce safe’. Let’s put those questions to bed right now.
Yes, they’re safe.
Yes it’s true that WordPress has it’s vulnerabilities without plugins, but there’s a simple solution to that – use security plugins.
Shopify has a unique program called the bug bounty. This encourages hackers to report problems or weaknesses found in the Shopify platform and get paid cold hard cash for pointing them out.
Instead of hackers holding Shopify to ransom for a bug, Shopify will pay out up to $5000 per bug, depending on the severity.
Hacking your account is more than just gaining access to your website, products, customers and orders. Fraudulent orders pose a real threat, too.
Shopify also has world-class risk analysis tools. Each transaction is screened by a complex algorithm and gives you an overall assessment of the risk.
As a seller, this gives you peace of mind that your buyer is genuine and won’t issue a fraudulent chargeback.
WooCommerce is open source and it’s free. This means everyone has access to the same basic code and can find holes in it. The upside is, that being opened source, anyone can develop plugins for it.
With so many ecommerce web stores hosted on WooCommerce, security is a high priority. In fact, some of the free security plugins for WooCommerce and WordPress are on par with the security of your internet banking.
When you sell on WooCommerce, you are not alone. If there’s a widespread attack, you won’t be left alone, as millions of other online stores are susceptible to the same attacks.
Clearly, you want to make sure that you’re more than safe, regardless. Head over and read this article by Kinsta to find the best WordPress security plugins.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Security conclusion
Security is not only paramount to you, but to both Shopify and WooCommerce. Any attack at your store makes them look back, so both platforms hold security very highly.
On Shopify, it works straight out of the box. With WooCommerce, it’s up to you to set difficult passwords, regularly update plugins, use SSL and secure payment gateways.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Mobile Apps
Mobile ecommerce accounted for over 31% of sales in 2016. If people can buy from your web store on their mobile device, you should be able to manage your web store from a mobile device.
Shopify launched their mobile app in 2012. Since then, it’s had well over 1,000,000 downloads on both Android and Apple devices.
The app lets you ‘manage your business in the palm of your hand. You can manage your products, fulfil and process orders and communicate with clients in real time.
A bonus for the modern entrepreneur who cannot afford to be tied to a computer all day.
WooCommerce also has their iOS app but not an app for Android. The WooCommerce mobile app gives you all the analytics of your web store in the palm of your hand.
A full range of product, order and customer details means that you’ve got as much control on your phone as you do on your computer.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Mobile Apps conclusion
Mobile functionality is a nice to have feature, but in this day and age, it can give one platform the edge over another. While it may not be essential, it’s nice to know that both platforms serve up a mobile app for your convenience.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Facebook integrations
As an online seller, you know how important a good social media campaign can be for driving sales and brand awareness.
Facebook, the biggest player in the social media world, offers the ability to sell product directly through your fan page.
But individually uploading your product to your Facebook store is time-consuming. Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to showcase your products on your brand’s Facebook Fan page.
With Shopify, the process is done in your dashboard. With a WooCommerce store, it’s taken care of by a third party plug-in. Either way, both options give you the same functions.
- Sync your inventory with your Facebook fan page store
- Provide a simple and safe checkout within Facebook
- Manage Facebook sales, customers and orders from your ecommerce dashboard
- Tag your products in Facebook pictures
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Facebook integrations conclusion
Out of the box, Shopify allows your customer to get personal updates of their order status within Facebook Messenger. Naturally, this can be done within WooCommerce by a plugin.
Regardless of which platform you use, it’s critical that you have your Facebook pixel installed on your website! This little guy will help you keep track of which Facebook fans go to your web store and how effective your paid Facebook campaigns are.
Selling on a web store and Facebook at the same time is the first step toward the bigger world of multichannel selling. This concept is important for any online seller wanting to diversify sales and market their brand to a wider audience.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Conclusion
Comparing two things is never a simple process, very rarely is there one clear winner.
What you need for a small business depends on your skills or what you can afford – ultimately, your business goals.
Still can’t make your mind up if WooCommerce or Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for you?
- Struggling with a small budget or limited funds? Use WooCommerce
- Not tech-savvy or scared of code? Use Shopify
- Already have a store and want to upgrade? Use WooCommerce
- Starting new or never sold online before? Use Shopify
As you can see, the better platform depends on you. But you will get the best possible outcome and sales growth while using either option.
Do you agree with our verdict? Is there another ecommerce platform comparison that you’d like to see? Let us know below in the comments!